|Kingdom Fungi: mushrooms, rusts, smuts, puffballs, truffles, morels, molds, and yeasts|
Wherever adequate moisture, temperature, and organic substrates are available, fungi are present. Most vascular plants could not grow without symbiotic fungi (mycorrhizae) inhabiting their roots.
Sulphur Shelf Fungi
The Kingdom Fungi includes some of the most important organisms, both in terms of their ecological and economic roles. By breaking down dead organic material, they continue the cycle of nutrients through ecosystems. In addition, most vascular plants could not grow without the symbiotic fungi, or mycorrhizae, that inhabit their roots and supply essential nutrients. Other fungi provide numerous drugs (such as penicillin and other antibiotics), foods like mushrooms, truffles and morels, and the bubbles in bread, champagne, and beer.
Fungi also cause a number of plant and animal diseases: in humans, ringworm, athlete's foot, and several more serious diseases are caused by fungi. Because fungi are more chemically and genetically similar to animals than other organisms, this makes fungal diseases very difficult to treat. Plant diseases caused by fungi include rusts, smuts, and leaf, root, and stem rots, and may cause severe damage to crops. However, a number of fungi, in particular the yeasts, are important "model organisms" for studying problems in genetics and molecular biology.
Although Fungi were once considered to be part of the plant kingdom, most experts now consider them to be a separate Kingdom or phylum. There are estimated to be over 100,000 different fungi, most of which form only tiny threads (Hypha) that can only be seen through a microscope. Of these, about 20,000 are considered to be high fungi or macro fungi, i.e. those that produce visible fruiting bodies. Only these are of any interest to the fungi enthusiast and covered in any detail, mostly of which belong to the subdivision Ascomycotina and Basidiomycotina.
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